The Importance of Breast Self Awareness
As you may know, October was National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Each year over 300,000 women and their families are affected by both the invasive and non-invasive forms of this life-changing sickness. While cancer may be unavoidable, being aware of any changes in your breasts can help detect and stop breast cancer in its earliest stages. So, as we leave October behind, let's not forget about breast self awareness because our health matters year round, right?
What is Breast Self Awareness?
Being breast self aware means that you are conscious of what your breasts normally look and feel like. By knowing the usual shape of your breast, you will be more likely to spot any new lumps or bumps that may appear. Your breasts go through many different stages within your lifetime, so keeping attention to them regularly is key to noticing new changes.
How to Perform a Breast Self Exam
Along with a yearly mammogram, experts recommend a BSE once a month. Once again, a breast self exam is simply used to help familiarize yourself with your body and its growth.
The National Breast Cancer Foundation suggests conducting your self exam in front of a mirror, lying down, or while in the shower. Raising your arms, applying light pressure, and flexing your chest muscles are a few strategies to help make any discrepancies more noticeable.
Keep in mind that most women's breasts are not the exact same size and shape. Look for these details instead:
- Lumps or knots
- Nipple discharge that is not breast milk
- Swelling or tenderness under the armpits
- Thickening or dimpling of the skin
If you observe a change, soreness, or any bulging, seek prompt medical assistance from your doctor.
Understanding Your Risks
Being a female and being older are the two main factors of getting breast cancer. However, it is important to understand that not all factors mean you will get the disease. Each and every woman is different and is affected in their own way. Some factors such as getting older, having dense breasts, having a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, being exposed to radiation, and late menopause cannot be controlled.
On the other hand, factors such as not being active enough, drinking alcohol, not breastfeeding, and taking hormones orally can be controlled and changed.
Knowing and understanding your risks regarding breast cancer yet again another step to early detection and prevention.
Getting an Annual Mammogram
If you are over 40 years old, it is essential for your health to get an annual mammogram. Mammograms create a 3-D picture of the breast and can detect lumps or tumors much earlier than the human eye. Talk to your healthcare professional today and make your appointment before it's too late!
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